1993-2015: Candy Stripe Legs (and Jumpers)

 

1993, Adelaide, Winter

 

Despite having ascended to the (Mt) lofty heights of Senior Consultant for a global software behemoth, the Adelaide marketplace was moribund, as Beneficial Finance’s cowboy culture brought down the State Bank and good guy Premier John Bannon.

 

My line of work needed governments or Head Offices. The SA government had no need for my expertise in a shiny new accounting system, clinging instead to the seventies based software that I had implemented in several departments in a previous life. The few head offices remaining in the City of (Empty) Churches had adopted a similar reluctance to update.

 

So when a local, listed mining company (let’s call them LLMC) decided to buy and implement our stuff, I was pleased that I’d be able to put to use my vast reserves of knowledge regarding Flexfields (both Key and Descriptive), Responsibilities, Concurrent Managers, the Financial Statement Generator and the evergreen Evergreen Check (sic) Format.

 

On my first day at the sparse but functional Fullarton Road, Dulwich address (you know, in that service road bit), I met a couple of their accounting bods, who were to be my implementation buddies for the ensuing months. One of them, Garry, was known to me from my time as ETSA’s first Systems Accountant, where he showed a particular aptitude with Olivetti PCs and the four pen colour plotter.

 

The other was a bearded, short-sighted, laconic bloke called Tony, who lived nearby, but had already worked all over the world by the time he was in his early thirties. Over time, I elicited such conversational titbits as home town (Robinvale), education (Deakin at Geelong, at least for a while), wife and kids (yes), footy team (Crows that week).

 

The work stuff was going OK as we refined the Chart of Accounts, got the cheque print to align with the new stock of pre-printed stationery (complete with detachable sprocket hole strips), so I was a contented man when going home each night to my beloved Mrs Swish and our young terror Swishter #1, who was in her second year.

 

Then one morning in the business pages of the Advertiser, it was announced that the LLMC was upping sticks and moving to Perth. This seemingly minor corporate relocation had a profound impact on the rest of my family’s life.

 

It was soon established that the work we had done so far was not wasted at all. The plan was for us to complete the setting up of the system in Adelaide, then spend some time in Perth to support them in their first few weeks.

 

Not all of LLMC’s staff relocated. Garry stayed in Adelaide, but Tony decided to uproot his family and relocate to the world’s most isolated capital. (Or is that one of those spurious claims, like the reputed 1 billion viewers of the India v Pakistan World Cup match that, if repeated often enough, becomes the accepted truth?).

 

The LLMC move to Perth was timed just right. Coinciding with the weekend of Round 22 of the AFL season, I was still able to attend as the Crows crushed Collingwood on the Sunday night, clinching fifth spot in front of 48,522. The quarter time doom and gloom (1.5-11 to 6.1-37) vanished thirty minutes later when the Tri-colours started finding the major opening. Adelaide Uni 1986 A1 premiership player Sean Tasker’s three-disposal game was the difference between the two teams at the end.

 

With mixed feelings (elation and freedom), I boarded the long westbound flight the following morning, for a fortnight of accounting systems warfare.

 

Tony and I got on so well that the plan was that I would share the South Perth accommodation that LLMC had arranged for him. It was an unusual situation to have a 24/7 relationship with the client, but in our case, it worked.

 

I’d brought over some CDs to while away the time. We’d never really discussed our mutual musical mindsets beforehand, but my choice of The Cure’s Disintegration and recent Ratcat recordings became the backdrop to our next few weeks. (Maybe I’m wrong about the Ratcat bit, at least I hope so). You learn a lot about someone when you see them in their jocks wailing to Fascination Street or warbling about man-eating spiders over breakfast.

 

We’d get up, drive to work in Tony’s ancient Magna, stay until 8-ish, go down to the South Perth beer barn (name escapes me), have a meal, go home, put on The Cure, make puns about Let’s Go To Bed (separately), get up, repeat.

 

But all through that week, I had missed out on being immersed in the madness of the then one team town’s first tilt at the finals. It was still the Final 6 format back then, and we were up against the on the wane but still dangerous Hawks at the MCG. The Waste Colours had pantsed the Crows the fortnight before and Dunstall had kicked 18 goals in the past two rounds, so I wasn’t too hopeful.

 

I amused myself by setting the LLMC unix root password to “crows93” on their state of the art RS6000 based system (I still wonder if it was ever changed) and waited patiently until the Sunday.

 

Anomalies abounded with the Final 6, with the Qualifying Final (1v2) being a seemingly pointless encounter between Essendon and Carlton which the Blues won by a couple of points.

 

It was a beaut Perth Sunday, so Tony and I moved the Rank Arena 12-inch out into the narrow south-facing courtyard and settled in with a couple of chops and an Emu lager or three. An even first quarter was followed by an unexpected Crows 7 goal onslaught. There was also the matter of the free-kick (on)slaughter that saw Hawthorn win that count 24-16. Although the fat future FM radio star snagged six very lucky Hawks goals, and Tony Godra was held to two, Adelaide’s ascendancy arose anonymously from legends of the game Liptak, Wigney and Bone who slotted half of our goals (not forgetting fire-walk-with-me Nigel Smart’s four sausage rolls).

 

Our prize was a double chance second-semi against the Blues.

 

The following week at LLMC was the same as the previous, more Cure, some training of new staff, a successful cheque run, some journal entries, it was all a blur (woohoo!!!).

 

We had a few night time chats, Tony mentioning some of his Uni pals from Melbourne who had settled down with each other in the sleepy southeast suburbs. He made Melbourne sound vaguely attractive, despite what we Croweaters were indoctrinated with. I must have filed that away somewhere.

 

After two more finals losses  (see here), Adelaide regressed until the coming of Blighty.

 

My work done, I left LLMC and Tony behind, returning to Adelaide in time for the ill-fated Prelim.

 

======================

 

Come pre-season 1994, I’d had enough of not knowing where I was going to be packed off to next. The Adelaide economy shrivelled quicker than George Costanza’s manhood in the Hamptons. We decided to up sticks for a new opportunity in Melbourne. This was a big deal for both of us, leaving our families behind. We kept our home in Adelaide, and I kept my pair of Adelaide season tickets, just in case.

 

We drove over on a housing reconnaissance mission, which just happened to coincide with the ’93 Prelim rematch at Princes Park, where I got my first taste of suburban AFL life. Little known Crows such as Tongerie, Rouvray, Turner and Chalmers didn’t fire up, although a regulation Modra half-dozen gave me advanced joy.

 

Heeding Tony’s advice, we lobbed in the same postcode as his Uni mates resided and they became our first new friends. Initially it didn’t work out employment-wise, but I landed on my feet a la Brett Burton and we added Swishters #2 and #3 to the lineup.

 

We said we’d give it two years. We are still here.

 

======================

 

Tony and his family flourished in Perth, where they still reside. Tony left LLMC and joined the software behemoth a few years after I had left it, lasting there until recently. I was one of his referees – I should have arranged a trailing commission. We catch up when we can. I still enjoy our ruminations on the follies of the corporate world.

 

We trade cheeky texts about the Crows efforts; he was especially chuffed to see them do well against West Coast in Round 22.

 

======================

 

In 1997, I made it back from a Florida conference in time to hear D. Jarman put us into the Grand Final, snagging a solo ticket to our first flag the next morning after lining up early at the Arts Centre box office.

 

The next year, Swishter #1 sat alongside me in Section Q9, face a-painted, flag a-wavin’ in 6 year old premiership heaven. She now works at the same Orlando theme park that I visited on my last day there. I’m glad I took those pictures of you.

 

Swishter #2 isn’t as keen, but I was almost moved to tears when she decided to go to the footy with me on a whim in 2012. Or perhaps it was because I took her to the One Direction Pop-Up shop beforehand. That’s what makes her beautiful.

 

I’ll be at the MCG this Saturday night, twenty two years after the Crows’ first finals foray, Swishter #3 at my side. She wasn’t born when the Crows last came top. I gave her a choice, but she said “yes I wanna go”. And that ain’t bad.

 

 

Swishters #1 and #3. MCG 2008

Swishters #1 and #3. MCG 2008

 

Swishter #2 with some old bloke. Docklands 2012

Swishter #2 with some old bloke. Docklands 2012

 

 

 

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right

Comments

  1. Great stuff – Ratcat got the last line too! Sadly, I experienced the 97 prelim and both grand finals from the China & Glass counter at David Jones Marion. When I found out I got my first full time Monday-Friday job the week after the 98 GF I thought “great, next time the Crows make a grand final I’ll be able to watch it live”. It may, possibly, be my fault.

  2. South Perth beer barn,was it the Windsor?

  3. Great stuff Swish.

    Lullaby is a fantastic song and one of many excellent Cure music videos. I also like the wardrobe falling off the cliff for Close to Me.

    Loved all the nineties references too. Not appropriate for a Cure fan, but I almost expected mention of hypercolour t-shirts!

    We watched both grand finals in the cave-like Players Bar (surprisingly not many Robert Smith lookalikes) and the noise that accompanied each Crows’ goal was amazing.

    Thanks for that.

  4. Great stuff, Swish. Thoroughly enjoyed this! Thanks.

    Confession – I absolutely loved “Don’t go now” by Ratcat. One of the great Australian pop songs of the 90’s.
    Perth – depends on your idea of isolation, I guess.
    Obtuse nicknames – I wonder if ‘Twin Peaks’ was ever bestowed on Nigel Smart ?

  5. Ben Footner says:

    Really enjoyed this read Swish. Looking forward to hopefully sharing the same memories with my little ones over the coming years.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Oh Swish! The Cure, RatCat One Direction and Costanza’s shrinkage in one post? I dips me lid to your fusion of pop culture, accounting and footy. I recently lost a lot of money on One Direction. Three years ago I bet my daughter 100 bucks that she would take her posters down before her 15th birthday. She turned 15, pocketed the 100 and took the posters down the next day.

  7. Thanks Swish. As an Adelaide refugee pre Crows I had already latched on to the Bombers and can clearly remember the feeling at the MCG at half time of that preliminary final. You were definitely not the only “smug” crows fan at the time. In fact smug would be a vast understatement. Bomber fans knew that if we got through we had Carlton covered as we had several players (Watson and Harvey are 2 I recall) missing from the narrow defeat the week prior. The second half of that game is up there in my favourite footy memories. Don’t know about the free kick count, seems a common theme with your losses, but Bombers had belief and the Crows didn’t. They were in unknown territory and had no idea how to stop the bomber blitz once it started. Thanks for bringing back those memories and best of luck for this week.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Thanks Swish enjoyable read of your adventures love your family references and Tascs mention
    ( the 86 Uni flag is particularly emotional at present with I am sure ever, Knackery member wishing,
    Brenton Nose Eckert all the best ) The last minor round game in 93 you were able to get in to footy park with a afl members season ticket which was not scanned or clicked ( 24 Payneham cricketers used the 1 ticket that I no of ) there were a lot more than 48 thousand in the ground.Budge I made a umpiring mate who hates the crows watch a replay of the 93 prelim with his exact words I love it that the crows got absolutely crucified by the umpiring.Mickey some memories re players bar,Swish hope your daughter brings the crows some luck,Saturday night

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Glad I’ve stirred up a few more 90s memories.

    Dave – There’s probably a sitcom there waiting to be written. You could call it “Bullsh*t in a China Shop”. Did you sell more Krosno, Wedgwood or Portmeirion?

    Snowman – Will have to ask Tony, I’ll let you know.

    Mickey – Still remember the night Suzanne Dowling introduced me to that video.

    Smokie – Yeh, I’ve been a bit harsh on Ratcat, they went alright, didn’t they.

    Ben – Get to ’em young and you’ll always have an excuse to go to the game.

    Phil – My daughter still hasn’t completely grown out of them. I should have done the same.

    Budge – We was rob… , nah, you were right about the belief bit.

    ‘Book – Is that ticket still valid?

  10. Krosno Silhouette range was our biggest seller by a reasonable margin. That said, rarely a man would enter the department without me ensuring he left with a Waterford Lismore whiskey tumbler or two.

    As for the umpiring in the 93 prelim, I always reckoned if you can’t kick goals from 20m directly in front you lose all right to complain about the umps.

  11. Always wondered what you guys got up to in South Perth. Say a big hello to Mrs Swish. By the way, when does she get to go to the Footy?

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Thanks Zan, will do.

    Mrs Swish is happy to have me out of the house. I think her Round 1 visit to the footy this year will fill the quota for the next decade.

  13. Fine article Mr Swish. You obviously have a better memory than me. I had forgotten most of what you had captured, but it all came back in a rush of memories.

    Fine times they were. The Magna still goes, just, and has become my son’s wagon to pile his guitars into to get to various gigs in Perth.

    Tuned in to find the Crows held off the Bulldogs. Still, this year it looks like ending up in the west. My prediction- the less fancied Dockers will come good in the last game of the year.

    P.S. Pub was the Windsor – corner Mends and Mill Point Rd South Perth. Think I’ve been there twice since our days.

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